Code: Realize ~Guardian of Rebirth~ Series Review: Nowhere Near As Impressive As The Amount Of Punctuation in the Title Suggests

Overview:

Set in the Victorian era, Cardia is alone in a tower when the military come for her. She’s then kidnapped by a thief. Turns out she has some weird poison in her that burns pretty much everything and there’s some terrorist plot to destroy London and then the world. However this is based on a game and at times that probably shows.

Review:

There’s a lot about Code: Realize that makes you think this anime feels it should be more epic in nature than it actually is. Firstly, the overly grandiose and punctuation filled title. Secondly, the scale of the conflict. Finally, the large and mostly under-realised cast of characters. Basically this story has a lot going for it but ultimately ends up pretty mediocre as it plods through introduction episodes of the cast of pretty-boys who seem to exist only in reference to source material before we finally get around to a fairly run-of-the-mill defeat the bad-guy kind of conclusion with a bit of romance thrown in.

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That isn’t to say there is a single thing wrong with any of that. It actually works fairly well and as a story and an anime it remains highly functional. It is visually fairly appealing and while the sound track is forgettable it isn’t bad and even the characters work well enough even if none of them are particularly exceptional. And that’s where reviewing this show is challenge. Everything is there and works well enough and yet nothing stands out or makes you want to take note.

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I would have liked more of Van and Drac’s story. Learning more about Fran rather than one episode of focus and then fade into the background would have been great too. Less of Nemo (and there wasn’t much) would have been fantastic. A narrative more focused just on Cardia and Lupin could have been amazing. Yet, what we get instead is superficial skimming over a range of characters’ and a plot that will get us from A to B but not make you want to remember the how or why of it.

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I could continue but basically the end result is everything about this story was pretty average. The one complaint I will level at it is a personal one and that is Cardia’s personality. She starts almost completely blank and it takes about four episodes before she’s really exhibiting anything close to a personality and then she essentially stalls for the remainder of the series wavering between damsel in distress and tragic heroine. Neither is particularly appealing though her interactions with Lupin remained fairly entertaining.

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All and all, if you really like this style of story with the girl who is loved by all the guys and you happen to be a fan of kind-of Victorian settings, than you will have some fun with this. If you are after a deep and meaningful story line or characters with some depth and substance, look elsewhere.


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Episode Reviews:


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Karandi James

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Code: Realize ~Guardian of Rebirth~ Episode 12: A Neat Package

Review:

I know I complain when things don’t resolve, but this was a very neat conclusion. Finis, father, Cardia’s poison, her relationship with Lupin, everything tied up in a pretty little bow. I guess that’s kind of been this show from start to finish though. It just kind of did its thing never particularly well but not making many mis-steps either.

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The end result has been a fairly sterile viewing experience. Nothing really to complain about but nothing to be excited about and this final is no different from anything else in the series so far. All in all, not a terrible watch but nothing amazing. I’ll do a full series review soon.

And be sure to have your say in the reader’s poll for best and worst anime of the season. If you haven’t voted click here.


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Sengoku Night Blood Episode 11: Once a Damsel in Distress

Review:

I think what continues to bug me the most about this show is there is actually an interesting premise here, buried underneath the inane chatter that clutters most of the screen time. This alternative view of the warring states could have been interesting if the show had cared to actually examine it or even the bringing together of the warlords to defend the world from the Yakuma could have been fun. Instead though, we are treated to more guys trying to be nice to miss no personality before we finally get back to something that might be remotely interesting.

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And just in case protecting villagers and pride was not enough, she goes and gets herself captured by the monsters just to set up a final fight against the monsters (with no resolution to the warring factions in sight). Mostly this remains a fairly bland and uninteresting watch. It isn’t strictly speaking broken, just not really worth the effort.


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Code Realize ~Guardian of Rebirth~ Episode 11: Save Cardia, Save the World

Review:

The race is on for Lupin and co to rush off and save Cardia off of Nemo’s Nautilus. That sounds a lot more dramatic than this episode actually is, but it kind of speaks for this show. It remains very careful as it steps through all the necessary parts of a story including this build to a climactic finish and yet there remains something lacking from this show.

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Part of me wishes the harem didn’t exist and the story had maintained a tighter focus on Lupin and Cardia, or maybe more was done to build up Finis as some kind of threat and not a giggling maniac who ultimately just serves as a vessel for the actual and yet unseen villain of the story. Of course, the story is functional as is, it just isn’t terribly exciting.

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Next week I guess we’ll see how Lupin didn’t die at the end of this episode and how he saves the girl. I just can’t really imagine any other ending at this point.


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Code Realize ~Guardian of Rebirth~ Episode 9: Rallying the Troops

Review:

Right, so we still don’t actually know what Code Realize is, other than a plot to destroy the world for reasons unknown. And we still don’t know what Idea is actually up to or what they think the ‘correct’ course is for humanity, other than they think killing Cardia is a step in the right direction. But we have learned that we should never, ever let an anime doctor perform first aid given the state the troops were in as they prepared to go to battle. Why a bandage would be wrapped around the outside of shirt, jacket and everything else is entirely beyond me.

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Basically this episode consolidates each of the main guys in Cardia’s harem (even though clearly we have a Cardia/Lupin pairing going on). Saint gives Cardia poison to kill herself with and then does some soul searching before returning at the end. Each of the other characters voice doubts, motives, other random bits of exposition with a few lame jokes, and Lupin recovers from being shot multiple times (by lying on the side with the arm that has the bullet wound – logical) and then they all come together for a pep talk.

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I didn’t actually dislike this episode. It is just more of the same for this show. It goes through the motions and is watchable enough but nothing exceptional or particularly noteworthy.


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Sengoku Night Blood Episode 8: Pass the Parcel?

Review:

So Yuzuki has now officially met all of the important characters as she’s been taken for visits, been abducted, found, abducted again, abducted from the abductors, etc, etc, etc. I’m not sure that any of this makes for a plot that makes sense but at least someone finally put together the basic point that everywhere she goes monsters attack.

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It almost makes you wonder why they want her. Oh yeah, her famous blood which so far only one vampire has even tasted in this entire series. It is almost like they just needed an excuse for all the pretty boy warlords to all fall for the same girl…

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Despite the absolutely transparent set up and almost non-existent plot development, this still isn’t actually bad to watch. Just pretty ordinary to forgettable. It doesn’t actually have enough personality to be all that bad to watch.

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But hey, they finally remembered she was supposed to be from another world so possibly this might become a plot point of significance again. I’m not really expecting much at this point though.


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Code: Realize ~Guardian of Rebirth~ Episode 8: The Enemy of My Enemy

Review:

For an episode that actually had a pretty dramatic ending (predictable but still dramatic) the rest of this episode just kind of felt like it was going through the motions. London is burning, soldiers are rebelling, and Cardia and Lupin return, reunite with the others and decide to save the Queen.

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I don’t know why Cardia and Lupin had to return and reunite with everyone before that could happen but I guess it worked out better than what the other guys were doing before they reunited which seemed to be nothing except staring around and terrifying already terrified deserters from the army.

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Finis remained a cackling cliché of an unthreatening villain spouting various threats and declarations in between cackles but still accomplishing almost nothing as the group slip through his fingers yet again.

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All and all, pretty ordinary. And yet, Saint finally gets a little bit of a story in this episode and while it wasn’t unexpected, it turned out to be more interesting than anticipated. More importantly, it set up that fairly dramatic ending. Now I don’t doubt that this show will squander most of that drama with an overly simplified conclusion to the scenario in the next episode, but at least it let the episode end on a high note.


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Code Realize ~Guardian of Rebirth~ Episode 7: Is Finis Relevant?

Review:

This episode begins with a recap of Finis tormenting Cardia in his own internal monologue and ends with him laughing maniacally, but I have to wonder what purpose he actually serves. It is Cardia and Finis’ father who actually has the terrorist plot that we are slowly closing in on. Finis at this point seems more like a side-show. The child who didn’t get enough attention and is blowing things up with a ‘look at me’ mentality. Maybe he’ll prove to be more than a distraction but I just don’t see how at this point.

Code7bThis episode instead focussed first on Cardia returning to a place from her past and being confronted by a mob of villagers stirred up by a priest who act exactly how you would expect them to in this kind of setting. This is where we do actually get a step closer to the plot which is a welcome relief at this point. Then we move on to Lupin’s tragic back story because despite being fairly prominent thus far, he was a character we knew very little about.

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Anyway, Lupin is bringing Cardia back to London and that’s where we see that Finis has made his move. Not sure what burning London down accomplishes but he seems pretty pleased with himself. All and all, this episode is about what you would expect if you’ve watched up to this point. Neither particularly good or bad to be honest.


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Code Realize ~Guardian of Rebirth~ Episode 6: What Did They Do To Nemo?

Review:

Well, this is kind of Impey’s episode, but unsurprisingly he’s pretty boring as a character so instead of really delving into who he is (other than a dreamer who wants to go to the moon) we’ll spend the episode preparing for and then participating in an air-race with a stolen airship. This will go well, I’m sure.

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In case you are wondering, this episode is pretty much entirely skippable save for the after credits reveal which I won’t say anything about, where they finally seem to want to actually advance the main plot line.

So unless you have some burning desire to see Nemo cackling away for some completely unknown reason…

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I’d ask what this is supposed to be but I’m afraid someone might answer.

Anyway, this show has a bad habit of having characters saying what I’m thinking and Van get’s the prize for that this week.

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All and all, not much to see here.


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Princess Principal Series Review: These Spies Are Cute and Deadly

Overview:

Five girls attend a prestigious school in the Kingdom of Albion (a Kingdom split in half by a wall). However, these girls are actually spies using their specific skills to complete their jobs.

Review:

Princess Principal is going to be a hard show to review really. Mostly because I loved the experience of watching it and had a lot of fun, but that doesn’t mean that it didn’t have its faults. The problem being, the longer you think about this show the more those faults become apparent. Still, there’s a lot to enjoy in this steampunkesque spy series.

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Firstly, the characters are fantastic. They all seem pretty standard at first and their designs are excessively moe (to the point where I wasn’t actually planning on watching this show at all because one look at the character designs made me roll my eyes). But each of the five girls is given time and attention and back story over the course of the first half of the series and by the time we get back to seeing them operating as a full unit I had really fallen in love with these characters and their relationships. For all the holes I’m going to poke in the plot of this story later, I am not going to throw rocks at this main cast. They are a great team and a lot of fun to spend time with.

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Obviously Ange and the Princess get the lion’s share of development, and that’s fine because I love both of those characters. Ange’s stoic nature and her quirky references to the Black Lizard Planet just make her an enigma that you want to figure out. She’s cold as ice when needed, illustrated clearly in the first episode where she shoots a traitor, but behind the scenes she’s definitely got a softer side. Again, seen when she made sure said traitor had insurance so that his daughter would receive medical attention. The Princess begins much as you would expect a Princess playing spy to act, but as the story progresses you see there is so much more to her than the external character she has perfected playing. These two were such a delight and when you throw in Chise, Beatrice and Dorothy this becomes one of my favourite teams in an anime I’ve seen in a long time.

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Secondly, the music. Loved the opening theme to this show. It is incredibly energetic and fun. Visually it works and it does give some sense of the characters, but mostly it sets a tone for the show that it mostly lives up to even if the events aren’t quite as loud and vibrant as the opening might have you believe. Still, this is an opening I didn’t skip even once and actually went back and listened to after episodes just because it was fun to hear.

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Thirdly, the setting. Okay, steampunk Victorian era is kind of done to death but I really appreciated the setting here. For the most part technology is within the realm of plausible with only one or two contraptions that seem fantastical. Mostly, it could actually be just historical (with the usual inaccuracies) and not steampunk at all but there’s enough going on that you kind of have to put it in steampunk category. Be that as it may, the world these girls live in is rich and dynamic. It isn’t a setting that they’ve been dropped onto. There are so many different groups and factions all with their own goals and motives. Even just the random workers they encounter are all crafted to feel like real people with their own story to tell. The setting is pretty fantastic.

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Alright, so now we have to address the issue with the plot. To start with, the show is broken into cases that are shown to the audience in a non-chronological order. This means we meet the characters in the order the show wants us to and learn the information we need about the characters when we need to, but it means there is no real drive toward any kind of final goal. Each case has its own goal and mostly the case is irrelevant. What is important are the characters, how they interact, and what they learn from the experience. As a character piece, Princess Principal is superb but it comes at the expense of plot. There’s no real buy in from the audience as to whether it matters is the team succeed of not in many of these missions as we are never really clued in as to what the missions are trying to accomplish. While that isn’t such an issue early in the series, it is what leads us to a fairly ordinary ending.

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The one plot thread we do follow most of the way through the story is Project Changeling which was a plan to have Ange kill and replace the Princess. Somewhere along the line that plan included having the Princess become part of the team, though where that left Changeling was never really determined. Then, in what seems like a desperate effort to push us into a climax when there was no real overall end goal, suddenly the guy in charge of the spies is replaced and the new guy orders Ange to kill Princess. The final two episodes follow this drama to its conclusion.

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However, the wall is still there, the Princess still isn’t Queen, the old spymaster is back, the girls are for some reason in Casablanca and still carrying out missions, so the question has to be asked whether from a plot point of view this show accomplished anything? Certainly the characters have come along way and it was really fun watching them do that, but it kind of felt like the story wanted to be more than just about the power of friendship (although that may just be my own wishful thinking). Mostly, this could be resolved by giving us a second season and actually addressing the set up that this show has now that the girls have dealt with their issues and become a team.

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I recommend checking this show out. It may not be for you but there is a lot of fun to be had here. It manages to balance its cute moments with some far darker tones and for the most part gets the balance right.

If you’ve seen Princess Principal I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.


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